The Symbolism.

" Paint, not the thing, but the effect it produces "

Stéphane Mallarmé.



The goal of the symbolists is to privilege the expression of the states of mind, to put forward the dimension of the psychic. Symbolism is an esoteric art, of the invisible, the mysterious, the occult. Symbolism is not a homogeneous movement.

What characterizes symbolism?

Just like neo-classicism or romanticism, symbolism is a multidisciplinary European movement, which can be found in both literature and art... Symbolism proposes to explore the invisible of the world, not without a certain mysticism, and gives precedence to the idea and subjectivity.


What are the themes of symbolism?

The renewal of poetic language: symbolist poets favor free verse. The favorite themes of symbolist writers are death, twilight, dreams, vagueness, landscapes that reflect moods, esotericism, mythology, mystery, etc.


What are the origins of symbolism?

The definition and chronological limits of the symbolist movement vary according to the authors. It is generally considered that symbolism designates a part of the Franco-Belgian and then European artistic production between 1880 and 1914, with a first manifesto in 1886, and whose apogee is situated in the 1890s.



Who are the writers of symbolism?

- Albert Samain. 1858 - 1900. Albert Samain is a French symbolist poet.

- Arthur Rimbaud. 1854 - 1891. ...

- Auguste de Villiers de L'Isle-Adam. 1838 - 1889. ...

- Catulle Mendès. 1841 - 1909. ...

- Charles Baudelaire. 1821 - 1867. ...

- Charles Gill. 1871 - 1918. ...

- Charles Morice. 1860 - 1919. ...

- Charles Van Lerberghe. 1861 - 1907.


Why is symbolism opposed to naturalism?

Symbolism is both a reaction against Parnassus and its continuation. It was intended to mark a break with scientistic materialism, whose triumphant literary form in the 19th century was naturalism.


The painters were inspired by contemporary and past novels and poetry (Dante). Ancient, Germanic, Celtic and Scandinavian mythology, legends, myths, fairy tales and the Bible fed their dreams. The symbolists magnify, with a sensitivity that is close to the skin, everything that is hidden behind appearances: the antagonism of vice and virtue, sadism and lust, neurosis, the projection of dreams, the fantastic, the imaginary, the strange, magic, esotericism, the afterlife, mysticism, solitude and death.

The symbol suggests a deep and personal idea by analogy and plunges the viewer into the unknown. Women fascinate painters. Pure, hieratic, virtuous and idealized for some, fatal beauty that leads man to death for others, often embodied in the legendary characters of Salome, Helen and the Sphinx. Flowers symbolise good and evil, animals metamorphose and the landscape leads the viewer into supernatural lands.

The painters seek aesthetic harmony that suits their symbolism. Many of them combine the precision of the drawing with the effacement of the brushstroke. The painting is also enriched by the randomness of the coloured spots, the blurred, flickering forms, the sensuality of the tones and the pictorial matter.



Source : arts.savoir.fr

Photo : wikimedia commons

Peintre : Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898)


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